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Aviation Laws in India

 What laws are relevant to Aviation in India?

  • The Aircraft Act 1934 is the primary domestic legislation which governs the Indian aviation sector. Its primary function is to empower the federal government to make rules for regulating the manufacture, sale, use, operation, export, import and safety of all civil aircraft.

  • The Aircraft Rules 1937 generally apply to Indian-registered aircraft (and to persons thereon), wherever they may be (with certain exceptions), and all aircraft present in or over India. These rules set requirements for flying conditions, registration, airworthiness and licenses, among other things. Where an aircraft is registered in a foreign country, the regulations of that country will apply, provided that their underlying standards are based on those established by the Chicago Convention. Further, the extent of application usually depends on the agreement between the two countries.

  • The Civil Aviation Requirements set out detailed requirements and compliance procedures in order to:

    • fulfil the duties and obligations of India under the Chicago Convention relating to international civil aviation;

    • standardize and harmonize requirements, taking into account the rules and regulations of other regulatory authorities;

    • implement the recommendations of the courts of inquiry or any other committee constituted by the federal government; and

    • address issues relating to the import, registration, safety and certification of aircraft operations.

  • Other legislation relevant to Indian civil aviation includes:

    • the Airports Authority of India Act 1994;

    • the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act 2008;

    • the Carriage by Air Act 1972;

    • the Aircraft (Security) Rules 2011; and

    • the Aircraft (Investigation of Accidents and Incidents) Rules 2012.

With regards to International law:

India has ratified the following international conventions:

  • the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air, signed in Warsaw on October 12 1929;

  • the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago on December 7 1944;

  • the Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft, signed in Geneva on June 19 1948;

  • the Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface, signed in Rome on October 7 1952;

  • the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, signed in Tokyo on September 14 1963;    

  • the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed in The Hague on December 16 1970;

  • the Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed in Montreal on September 23 1971;

  • the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, signed in Montreal on May 28 1999; and

  • the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, signed in Cape Town on November 16 2001.

Bilateral agreements

India has entered into a number of bilateral air service agreements with various countries. Pursuant to the new civil aviation policy of 2016, the Indian government intends to liberalise the air service agreement regime in order to provide greater ease of conducting international operations and tapping into the global passenger market. At the International Civil Aviation Negotiations 2016, India signed open skies agreements with six countries – Czech Republic, Finland, Guyana, Jamaica, Spain and Sri Lanka. India also entered into an open skies air service agreement with Greece and intends to sign similar agreements on a reciprocal basis with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation states and other countries located over 5,000 kilometres from Delhi.


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